Malami, Sessions to Discuss Modalities for Repatriation of Nigeria’s Stolen Money

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By Tokunbo Adedoja in Washington, DC
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, and his US counterpart, Senator Jeff Sessions, will meet today  (Tueday) in Washington to discuss modalities for the repatriation of funds siphoned from Nigeria and  hidden in various jurisdictions around the world.
The return of Nigeria’s stolen funds, put at over $500 million, hidden in banks around the world, was one of the issues discussed at the working lunch between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday.
Malami said today’s meeting, slated for 3.30pm (EST) at the Justice Department, would focus on the removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks slowing the repatriation of the stolen funds.
“There has been clear directive for the US Attorney General and the Nigerian Attorney General to meet and  have a road map for the recovery of the assets.  That meeting is now slated for tomorrow,3.30pm.
“The two Attorneys General are meeting to discuss as its relates to the repatriation  of over $500 million that is seemingly ready for repatriation subject to the displacement of associated bureaucratic bottlenecks,” he said.
Noting the political commitment to the issue at the highest level of the governments of both countries, Malami said though there was no timelines for the return of the stolen money, Nigeria was looking at the shortest possible time for the funds to be repatriated.
 “As to time frame, I cannot state categorically what we are looking at in timelines sense. But  the truth of the matter is  we are looking at the shortest practicable time.
“The fact that we have indeed come to terms by way of agreement to discuss, by way of  the fact that political commitment has set into  it as being demonstrated by the commitments of the two presidents is a clear demonstration of the fact that the possibility of having the money repatriated within the shortest possible time cannot be outruled,” the Justice minister said.
Responding to a question on the actual amount to be repatriated, Malami said, “as far as the immediate negotiation between the US and Nigeria, what we are looking at is a figure of $500 million and above. That is what is immediately on the table for discussions between the two countries. “
He however added that “investigation is ongoing and the numbers keep changing with time. “
During a joint press briefing with Trump at the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, President Buhari had thanked the US government for the cooperation Nigeria was receiving in its effort to recover stolen funds.
He also said both countries had put machinery in place for their respective Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of $500 million looted funds hidden in banks around the world.